Tests show US Army meningococcal cases linked

17th March 2006, Comments 0 comments

17 March 2006, BERLIN - Laboratory tests have shown that the strain of meningococcal disease that recently afflicted the teenage son of a US Army employee was the same strain that killed a soldier's spouse five weeks earlier.

17 March 2006

BERLIN - Laboratory tests have shown that the strain of meningococcal disease that recently afflicted the teenage son of a US Army employee was the same strain that killed a soldier's spouse five weeks earlier.

According to US Army newspaper Stars and Stripes, tests by Germany's national reference laboratory for meningococcal disease have confirmed the two strains were identical. The particular strain, Type C meningitis, is "extremely rare here in Germany," said Dr. Ulrich Vogel, a professor at the laboratory, in remarks to the newspaper Thursday.

"From the laboratory's point of view, they (the cases) are linked," he said. "The bugs are identical."

"It's unusual to have two cases of that kind in such an area and in such a time span," Vogel added. "It's not likely to have this [happen] by chance."

However the professor pointed out that the results did not mean the teenager contracted the disease from the soldier's spouse. He said that the bug may be part of a "significant cluster" of epidemiological activity involving other individuals who are linked in some way.

Major Heidi Whitescarver, chief of preventive medicine at the Würzburg Army Hospital, told the newspaper that the two individuals were not directly linked. "They didn't know each other," she said. "They didn't travel in the same circles."

Christopher Screen, the 16-year-old son of an American civilian who works for the US Army in Kitzingen, was admitted to hospital with meningitis almost two weeks ago. He is expected to be released within the next couple of days.

His was the fourth case of meningococcal disease among US Army personnel in Germany this year. The other three victims, Dave Robbins, a 20-year-old soldier from Kitzingen, Lindsey Ferris, a 26-year-old agent with the Office of Special Investigations at Spangdahlem Air Base, and Kimberly Wesson, a 23-year-old spouse from Schweinfurt, all died from the disease.

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Subject: German news

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